I’d like to piggyback on Drs Kumar Mahabir and Jerry Jailall’s and Mr Jai Lal’s recent letters on Dr Vishnu Bisram as a suitable candidate to fill a diplomatic opening in New Delhi, India. The post was made vacant with President Ali’s recent “announced return” of High Commissioner Charrandas Persaud. I write to endorse their recommendation, urging the President to act on the recommendation.
I first travelled to India in August 1999 in the company of Bisram for business and pleasure – and even as far back as 1999, I noticed Bisram already had well connected relationships with many bureaucrats and politicians there. Even the trip was organized gratis funded through his connections with Foundations and tge generosity of the airline whose service he reviewed for a magazine.
Bisram wanted to observe electoral politics at play in India following the one vote defeat of BJP and PM Vajpayee in a no confidence vote. The defeat led to an election in 1999, and we were allowed to follow a leading BJP candidate at scores of campaign-stops in his New Delhi district of South Delhi against Congress’s Manmohan Singh. We visited the offices of the BJP, Congress, and other parties.
A campaign stop is 10 -15 minutes – and so candidates made as many as 40 such stops in a day. It’s politics at lightning speed. A speech five minutes; Handshaking another five; and motorcade takes off. Manmohan lost. Bisram (and I) did informal polls in Delhi. Everywhere we went, voters told us that BJP would win. It did, sweeping Delhi.
I linked up again with Bisram again for a month’s long visit in February 2018. By this time, Bisram had many connections with several Universities and many more leading politicians. On a visit to the UP’s State parliament in the capital city Lucknow, we were welcomed by the Speaker in his office for a private visit. The Speaker’s aides served us coffee/tea and refreshments. He also spent 30-minutes chatting with us – and also posed for pictures. We also paid visits to a few leading members of the state parliament in their private living quarters within short distances of the parliament. The MP rep from Lakhimpur Kheri district had a personal relationship with Bisram – and also invited us to tour his home district that weekend.
Bisram also took us (our team consisted of the late Dr Tyran Ramnarine) to visit Awad University which is located within the Lucknow District. He is well known there – and is treated as a distinguished visitor. He stayed there for a day-long visit – and lent me his car and driver for a visit to the city of Ayodhia, two hours away. (Ayodhia – famedhistoric city, birth place of Lord Rama. Now famous for the sacked Babri Masjid, on which site the Ram temple was about to be rebuilt). Later in New Delhi, Bisram took us for a visit to Indira Gandhi University. Again I noticed Bisram was received as a distinguished visitor – one of the Administrators/Deans treated us to a lavish 7-course lunch and provided his car/driver to take us back to the nearest railway station. At Benares Hindu University in the city of Varanasi, Bisram arranged for my party to stay at the University guest-lodging which I declined as I already had booked a hotel.
I mention these few details to show that Dr Vishnu Bisram has personal relationships with many senior folks in Government and academia in several states of India. I suggest these are credentials that would work well in terms of promoting closer diplomatic relationships between India and Guyana. Bisram has visited India at least two times a year since 1999 – and first started visiting India since 1990. A diplomat’s main mission in a globalized world is about promoting closer relationships with the host country – and more specially about promoting trade and investment. Given Bisram’s connections with India, he is ideally suited to fulfill this mission.
Editor, permit me to make a few other points. The Irfaan Ali Administration has always boasted of wanting to develop closer ties with the Guyanese diaspora. Well, here is a nice little challenge to give meaning to their policy: – Appoint a few qualified folks from the diaspora. On this point I will also recommend Dr Dhanpaul Narine for a post in the Guyana mission to the United Nations – and a diasporan Guyanese based in London for the High Commissioner’s post in London. These folks already own their homes in these cities. GoG can save money – not having to provide Housing and Living Allowances – for these office holders. Money saved this way can be spent to pay entrance fees for students sitting for fee-paying exams – or provide libraries in High Schools.
Dr Bisram did not ask me to write this letter. I am Inspired to do so only by Kumar Mahabir’s letter – and because of my long relationship with Bisram. Just one more little anecdote. In 1990, I was sitting down for a meeting with Congressman Steven Solarz in his office at the deep end of Brooklyn. I was asking Solarz to issue a statement calling or Free and Fair Elections in Guyana. Bisram took off early from work and drove at break-neck speed to meet with Solarz. Meeting was in progress; Secretary opened the door and Bisram walked in. Now that’s a man who is dedicated to serving his country in several capacities. Solarz issued the statement calling for free and fair elections in Guyana. We also did same in our lobbying and appeal to Elliot Engels of the Bronx; he also issued a statement calling for FFE in Guyana. Bisram also lobbied several other American and Indian politicians on matters pertaining to Guyana. I point out those facts to show the connections and effectiveness of this illustrious son of Guyana.